This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.
Apple announced on April 23 that it has reached an agreement with the developer of the WordPress app for iOS to allow updates. The company has reversed its policy of informing the developer of the app, which originally did not have in-app purchases, that it would not approve the app unless it added in-app purchases.
WordPress for iOS is an open-source CMS (content management system) and an app that allows you to easily build and manage your website, including your blog. Apart from this, there is also WordsPress.com, a blogging service that offers various paid plans, and the former allows you to use the options you have already purchased there. However, there is no system in place to purchase directly within the app.
It all started with a statement by WordPress developer Matt Mullenweg on Twitter, who revealed that the reason why there was no update for iOS for a while was because Apple was notified that they would not approve it until it included in-app purchases.
I am a big believer in the sanctity of licenses. (Open source relies on licenses and copyright.) We agreed to this license when we signed up for (and stayed in) the app store, so going to follow and abide by the rules. Not looking to skirt it, hence doing what they asked us to.
This comes just as Apple and Epic Games are in the midst of an all-out showdown over in-app purchases for the iOS version of the popular game Fortnite. But Mullenweg said, "I am a big believer in the sanctity of licenses. (Open source relies on licenses and copyright.) We agreed to this license when we signed up for (and stayed in) the app store, so going to follow and abide by the rules. Not looking to skirt it, hence doing what they asked us to," indicating that he would follow Apple's guidance and not let things get out of hand.
But even if Mullenweg was convinced, the behavior of forcing an app that didn't have in-app purchases, to begin with, drew a lot of attention. So, in response to an inquiry from international tech media outlet The Verge, Apple responded that the lack of in-app purchases was a violation of its guidelines.
3.1.3(b) Multiplatform Services: Apps that operate across multiple platforms may allow users to access content, subscriptions, or features they have acquired in your app on other platforms or your web site, including consumable items in multiplatform games, provided those items are also available as in-app purchases within the app. You must not directly or indirectly target iOS users to use a purchasing method other than in-app purchase, and your general communications about other purchasing methods must not discourage use of in-app purchase.
The bottom line is that apps that run on multiple platforms are allowed to access content and other items bought elsewhere, but those items must be available for in-app purchase, and the act of disseminating information about or directing users to other purchasing methods is prohibited.
Mullenweg said he offered to block pages on the iOS version that direct users to external payment sites (such as those buried on support pages) but was rejected by Apple.
Why did Apple ask for the implementation of in-app purchases? Renowned media analyst Ben Thompson speculated that the company wanted to take a 30% commission from WordPress.com's paid plans.
WordPress (and the app) are GPL, and App Store TOS and DRM violate GPL. Thus only the copyright holder can submit an app for all of WordPress, both self-hosted and https://t.co/WHTtnmKYAZ.
Apple is thus holding millions of websites hostage for 30% of Automattic domain sales 🤷♂️
But on August 23, Apple released a statement (via Bloomberg reporter Mark Garman) saying that the WordPress app had agreed to be updated in a way that removed any reference to the paid service in a roundabout way. "it is now a free stand-alone app and does not have to offer in-app purchases. We have informed the developer and apologize for any confusion that we have caused," said Apple, apologizing.
This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.